Questions and Answers,
from 1996 and
I recently went to my local LDS Family History
Library full of excitement about finding information
about my family. Towards the end of my first
session I met with some success. Through the Social
Security Index, I found 16 people listed with my family
name. . . . I went to the Ancestral File
Index which would provide me with spousal and child
information. My spirits were dashed when "no
matching files" appeared . . . The ladies who
were working the library thought that this was the
greatest thing, that I could now be the one to input
all of my family history.
Riddle me this, Batman: How am I supposed to chart my
family heritage when I don't have much to work with? If
the Mormon Church doesn't have my family, who does?
ANSWER: You want your pedigree? Fine. Get your birth
certificate. Get your parents' marriage license
application. Get their birth certificates. Get similar
info as far back as you can on every one of your direct
line ancestors. When you get back far enough that you are
back to 1920, start looking at the U.S. census. Check
1920, 1910, 1900, 1880, 1870. 1860, and 1850. Learn to
use the soundex system. Get copies of wills for all of
your direct line ancestors. Check out the cemeteries
where they were buried. Read the headstones. Make contact
with the genealogy societies in the various counties
where your ancestors lived. Check out religious records.
Check for military records. Check for land transfer
records; they are always a barrel of laughs.
That's only a start. At some point, your ancestors were
on the other side of the ocean. Learn a bit of the
language so you can read simple phrases. Go back to the
LDS to see if they have microfilms of various records
from the towns and provinces where your ancestors
Take a basic course in genealogy. Go to your public
library and check out a book about how to do basic
genealogy. Learn to do genealogy. It's considerably more
than sitting in front of a computer and telling it to
search its data bases for a particular name.
Do you think Alex Haley went to his local LDS library and
said, "Where do you have my pedigree?"
can I find a man's birth record from Wayne Co., IN,
for 1829 or 1839?
ANSWER: That's too early for a county or state birth
record in Indiana. County birth records didn't begin in
Indiana until about 1880. You might find a baptism record
at a local church, but no government birth record.
The real question is what piece of info are you hunting
for? His exact date of birth? The names of his parents?
His place of birth? There are other possible
sources for all of that data. Check for his
death certificate, the census back to 1850, his
tombstone, the will of his father (presumably a man with
the same surname), a marriage license application in case
he married after 1880, land transfer
records, military records, pension records. You
might want to contact the genealogy society in Wayne Co.,
IN, for further tips.
I have a widow listed in the 1850 census of GA. All of
her children were born in GA. The oldest is 23 at
census time. I have tried to locate her
husband. He is not in the mortality tables. I
can't find a name for him. I have looked at the
children's names and at their children's names for
clues. John, William, Thomas all seem to be
I have her name. I can't seem to find a will or any Bible
records either. Any suggestions?
ANSWER: Find her death certificate. Her late husband may
have been named on it. Find the marriage license
applications for her children; parents may have been
named on them if they married late enough. Find the death
certificates for the children; parents likely were named
on them. Those records can be ordered from the county
courthouse. It's always better to deal with the county
courthouse than the state records division.
This is the kind of basic "how to" info that
new family genealogists can use. Some of us who have been
doing this forever forget sometimes what we didn't know
when we started. I had a recent contact by a 4th cousin.
She was researching Orlando LANE of Vermilion Co., IL. I
descend from Orlando's sister Cilinda. The woman's aunt
had found a William Lane of the same county and same
township who seemed like the likely father -- even buried
in the same small grave yard. She was trying to
"prove down." In other words, prove that
William had a son Orlando. My suggestions were simple and
obvious: get death certificates and marriage license
applications on known siblings to find a parent named.
And, if you want to look from the other way, get a will
or estate settlement on that William. She had hunted for
years, and in a matter of days was able to learn that
Orlando's parents were named as Allen LANE & Hannah
COOK, and that William Lane had no son Orlando. No
apparent relationship even!
Is there any law that you have to wait so many years
before getting a death certificate of a family member?
ANSWER: Generally, no, but it would be a matter of
can be used -- without harming the original -- to bring
up faded ink penmanship on old letters?
ANSWER: Photo copy the original. Then, on the photo copy,
use a yellow "magic marker" over the area you
want to read. Alternatively, and less conveniently,
purchase a yellow transparent film that you can lay
on top of the original and read thru. Obviously, not
everything will "appear," but it will make
what's there easier to read.
might I find a copy of Mary TODD LINCOLN's
genealogy. According to my grandparents, a relative
of ours married a PARKER and a TODD who were relatives of
Abe LINCOLN's wife.
ANSWER: Ah, yes, the TODDs, as in, "One 'd' was good
enough for God, but the Todds needed two." That's
from honest Abe. :-)
There is a manuscript available on microfilm that can be
ordered thru interlibrary loan. Just go to your nearest
public library and request an interlibrary loan from the
Kentucky Historical Society in Frankfort, KY. You'll be
requesting the "Helm Papers," manuscript 425,
microfilm reels 12, 13, and 14.
The manuscript was written by Mary Todd's paternal
half-sister Emily (who became Mrs. Helm) and Dr. Simeon
Seymor Todd (1826-1899). It begins with Mary Todd's Todd
great-grandparents and traces as many of his descendants
as could be found.
Mary's parents were of course Senator Robert Smith Todd
(1791-1849) and Eliza Ann Parker (1795-1825). The
Senator's father was Levi Todd (1756-1807), and Levi's
father was David Todd (1723-1785). David Todd is a
What does one do when you come to a dead end root of the
family tree? Even great-aunts and great- uncles who are
still living don't "remember," or you get two
conflicting stories. I've been searching the
"web," but where does one search? Seems like
when I get to where I think I'm going, it's another
deadend. Sorry to sound so "duh!?" here, but
right now I am. Any ideas would be appreciated.
ANSWER: Well, then you start doing genealogy! Not meaning
to be flip, but talking with your relatives and surfing
the 'net is not exactly genealogical research. Begin with
the known, and move back into the unknown.
Obtain birth certificates, marriage license applications,
death certificates, funeral home info, cemetery info,
gravestone info, wills, estate settlements, land records,
military records, church records, and bastardy bonds.
Look at local histories of the areas where your people
were. Check the U.S. census with ease back to 1850; with
some greater difficulty before then. Find ship's
passengers lists. Seek naturalization papers.
On the other side of the ocean, it's the same basic idea
Go to your local LDS Family History Center -- open free
of charge to the public -- to see what records LDS has
filmed for the areas that you are working. Order films,
Check to see if genealogies have been published on the
lines you are working. Check PERSIS, a listing out of
Fort Wayne of the major genealogy periodicals.
In 1997, an 85-year-old Miss Bentley
wrote the following:
am searching for my daughter named Betty Lou born Sept.
30, 1928, in University of Michigan hospital, at Ann
Arbor, MI. My father Elton Bentley made me
give her up for adoption and told me she had been
adopted through the Job's Daughters of the
Masons. I have tried contacting them, but they
ANSWER: All that is known is that a female child was born
on 30-Sep-1928, at a specific hospital in Ann Arbor, MI.
It is believed -- but not known -- that the child was
placed for adoption with a Masonic organization called
"Job's Daughters." I'm assuming that's
something like "Catholic Charities."
Almost certainly the child's name was changed, and all
records of the child were kept under the new name. Also,
since the child was born in 1928, the child (now a grown
woman) most likely changed her surname at least once with
a marriage. All that's known for certain is the date of
birth, and I've seen birth dates altered with adoptions.
The real puzzle in Miss Bentley's case is whether she
signed for the adoption. I would think that in 1928 a
16-year-old mother would have had to sign away her
parental rights in some way. The fact that Miss Bentley
said only that her father told her the adoption was
handled thru some organization seems suspect. WHY didn't
the mother have to sign something? I wrote privately to
Miss Bentley suggesting that she engage an attorney in
the Ann Arbor area and try to get a judge to order that
the records be turned over. The ideal situation would be
to get copies of the hospital records and to get a copy
of the original, unaltered birth certificate. Since the
child was born in a hospital, there had to have been an
original birth certificate.
I also suggested phoning the local Masonic organization
and asking them about the "Job's Daughters"
If you are looking for a Confederate soldier, would
research at the National Archives be the way to proceed?
ANSWER: My understanding is that the National Archives
does not have information on Confederate
soldiers. The obvious reason being that the soldiers of
the Confederate States of America were not in the
military service of the United States of America.
The U.S. government did not pay pensions to Confederate
soldiers (obviously) so there would be no pension records
for them. The U.S. government did not have military
records for them (obviously) because they were not in the
military service of the USA. Some former CSA states did
pay pensions, and there are libraries/archives in the
former CSA that have military records. However, I've
never worked those records so I could not tell you where
The only ways I can imagine that a records for a CSA
solder would be at the National Archives might be if he
had been captured as a POW and held in a POW camp; if he
had signed a "re-loyalty" oath to the U.S.
government; if he had been captured wounded and ended up
in a hospital under the control of the U.S. government;
or if he actually served at one point in the U.S. Army
Regarding publishing genealogies, how do you deal
with the hurt feelings of those who thought their
step-grandchildren's nieces and nephews would be
included? Some say to include stepchildren as
part of the family; others say not to.
ANSWER: Include the stepchild in the notes, and mention
who the child's actual father or mother was. HOWEVER, do not attempt to attach a stepchild to a person as if
the child were the actual child of a stepparent.
That is not genealogy; it's after-the-fact sire and dame
selection. Pardon my farm talk, but once your cow's
bred, the father of that calf has been selected.
Let's not get into the social issues here about how Sally
barely knew the father of her first child, and that she
regrets her involvement anyway, and how her current
husband is "such a good daddy." And on,
and on. Let's just get our genealogy straight. The reason
to note stepchildren is because the information can help
to place the individual or individuals on whom you are
Stick with the facts in genealogy. Not the fantasy. And,
getting back to the exact question, don't include
anyone's "step-grandchildren's nieces
and nephews." That's rather far afield, but
your phrasing the question that way gets across the point
that these people are not relatives.
Recently I found that a family cemetery of my
ancestors was destroyed by the man who now lives
there. Are there any laws to prevent this?
This particular property is in Pennsylvania. Does a
person have the right to pull up gravestones for any
ANSWER: It depends on the state. Check with a genealogy
society in that area, and you can learn both the state
law and the local practice. In reality, stones don't last
forever, and the earth moves them around. You know, to
get my sympathy, it depends on how many stones were
there, the condition of the site, how often any
descendant visited to tend them, and how old the burials
were. Life goes on. However, in Indiana at least,
cemeteries may not be disturbed, and access must always
be allowed. If you officially "own" a
grave site in Indiana, you may never do anything with
that land other than improve it as a cemetery; you must
allow access -- even if across your property -- to the
graves; and you are not taxed on the land.
Cemeteries aren't exactly an "asset" anyone
would want. ;-)
However, in Indiana at least, the practice is always to
politely look up the official "owner" and
politely "ask" whether he'll allow you to cross
his property to visit the grave site. It's also proper to
put in some "jaw jacking" time with the owner
to show him that the folks he's got buried on his land
lived lives such that the graves that he puts up with are
worth his inconvenience. If you're really good at it, you
can get him interested enough to tend the site and keep
it "lookin' real purty."
At this point, deal with what you've got. Maybe you can
get someone to talk him into telling where he dumped the
stones so you can at least try to get info off the
stones. Other than that, comfort yourself with the
knowledge that your ancestors have returned to the earth.
How do you read inscriptions on old grave stones?
ANSWER: There's an ongoing debate among genealogists
about using shaving cream on grave stones to read the
engravings. I just returned from a week in Vermilion Co.,
IL, and Carroll & Clinton Co., IN. Arm-chair
theorists and defenders of rocks can say what they want,
but nothing beats shaving cream and a squeegee for being
able to read old & often inaccessable stones. Some of
these stones were so "cruded" with lichen that
the lichen filled all the crevices and had to be brushed
These stones were inaccessable and would not have been
read by anyone except for an old kook doing genealogy.
And this old kook doesn't have the physical stamina to
lug much more than a small bag over hills, dales,
creeks, rocks, five-foot weeds, and fresh cow patties in
a quest to get info from the old stones. In my small
plastic bag from the grocery store, I kept a natural
bristle scrub brush; a can of shaving cream; a rubber
dust pan to use as a squeegee; small clippers to cut away
brush; rubber gloves; a small pad of paper & a pen;
and an extra roll of film. My camera hung from my neck.
Use the brush to clear off the crude. Spray with shaving
cream. Use the rubber dust pan to wipe off the excess
shaving cream. Take a photo, and write down what you are
able to read.
Many of us who do genealogy are old, fat, &
arthritic, with bad feet and breathing problems, and
we've traveled a long way with only a very short time in
any one location.
The info on any stone eventually will be lost. Stones
don't last forever. Acid rain, bird droppings, lichen,
and nature will eventually take them all. It's the
information that we should want to preserve.
Many stones on which I've used shaving cream over the
years had information which had been lost to all for
decades before me & my shaving cream wandered thru
the woods to find them.
The object is the information, not the stone. A rock that
no one can read serves no purpose. What a shame if the
information had been there for the taking, but some
"preservationist" preventing the taking of the
knowledge when it was available.
do you record children born to unmarried parents
ANSWER: I'm not a priest. I'm a journalist and a
genealogist (genealogy is a form of journalism), and I
Please, to all folks even dabbling in genealogy,
"Just the facts, ma'am." Except for the rarest
cases, if a child comes out of a woman's body, the woman
is the natural, legal, and genealogical mother. Generally
speaking, we take her word on who the father is. Without
proof to the contrary, her word (regardless of in what
fashion) is accepted as proof. There are exceptions, but
they are exceptions.
If your genealogy software will not allow you to enter a
child without "marrying off" the parents,
either change software, or tell yourself in your own mind
that "spouse" means "conjugal companion
for at least one brief moment, even if with the
assistance of a turkey baster." If you're creating a
chart, the standard symbol for a child-producing union
that was not recorded in the county clerk's office is an
equal sign (=) with a slash thru it. (The mathematical
symbol for "is not equal to," which in
genealogy means "was not married to.")
What if you're using someone else's transcription or
ANSWER: If I'm using someone else's
transcription/translation, I'm not really sure WHAT the
records say. Let someone else be credited or blamed for
his own accomplishment or error. If the
translator/transcriber goofed, the error can be tracked
to him. At the same time, naming the
translator/transcriber can add validity to the genealogy
report. If the translator/transcriber is known as a good
one, the report has more credibility.
How accurate is the information on the microfiche
at LDS? Could it be that the date should have
been 1863 and not 1873? I am looking at the
microfilm from Meurthe-et-Mozelle, France now.
ANSWER: I assume you mean you are looking at an LDS-made
microfilm of some original record from France. If that is
the case, you must judge the original record. All LDS
does is go in with a camera and photograph what is found
in all sorts of places. Look at everything in the record
and attempt to determine what it is you are looking at:
An original record? A hand-copy of the original record?
Someone else's compilation of research?
When you say "accuracy of the LDS," you need to
be specific about what records you are talking about. At
an LDS Family History Center (genealogy library), you
will find all sorts of stuff. Two sets of
"stuff" have been created/compiled by LDS: the
International Genealogical Index [IGI] and the Ancestral
The IGI is an index of folks on whom LDS members have
done "temple work." The question to ask always
is "what's the source for the info?" If the
source is a submission by an LDS member, the info is only
as accurate as the person who submitted the request for
"temple work." If the source is "an
extraction," the chances for accuracy are better,
and you can go to the original record yourself to check.
The Ancestral File is the ultimate of "garbage
in/garbage out." ANYONE can create a gedcom file
with ANY info, submit it to a specific LDS address in
Salt Lake City, and the info will end up as part of the
Ancestral File. The info is checked in only one way:
Folks born within the last 90 years who have no date of
death noted are assumed to be alive, and their info is
deleted for privacy. When you prepare the file, if you
make the goof of noting the death as "after June
1993" as a way of telling yourself the person was
alive at least as late as that, the person will show up
in the Ancestral File -- even if he's alive. THAT can be
The rest of the records you will find at LDS were created
by someone other than LDS. They are microfiche and
microfilm of all sorts of records -- primary, secondary,
tertiary, and so on. Some good, some garbage. And of
course, there are books at any LDS library; again, the
accuracy depends on the source and the researcher/writer.
Folks seem to understand automatically that the LDS is
not responsible for the accuracy of any books. The
confusion seems to come in film and fiche since the LDS
usually created the film or fiche.
Is the term "Collateral Descendent" an
accepted genealogical term? I have a problem
understanding the use of this term.
ANSWER: Collateral descendant is a perfectly valid
genealogy term. It means a person "came down the
same line as another." It specifically does not
mean direct descendant. Basically what it means is that
you share ancestors with someone at some direct point.
More often it is used to mean that one descends from a
sibling of someone. So, when folks talk about being
"collateral descendants" of George Washington,
they mean they descend from a sibling of George.
Because it is so well known that G.W. had no direct
descendants, some collateral descendants of G.W.
sometimes refer among each other to being G.W.
descendants. I'm sure none is trying to "fool"
anyone; it's just a verbal shorthand.
A friend of mine claims his family roots have been traced
to "Biblical times." Is this realistically
possible? What sources would be used?
ANSWER: The quick answer is that your friend is either
being silly or is easily fooled. Take your pick. There
are no genealogies considered "proven" before
about 600 A.D.
However, most long time genealogists have seen silly
genealogies tracing clear back to Adam and Eve. When
someone mentions something like that, I make a quick
judgment: Is the person who is saying this a simple fool
who is not worth my time explaining why he/she is wrong?
Or, is the person educable? If I judge the person to be a
fool, I smile and say, "That's nice."
At the same time, some folks will do what could loosely
be called "Bible genealogy": They follow the
"begats" in the Bible to create a "Bible
genealogy." However, none of those genealogies can
be connected with known, provable genealogies of folks
beyond times of the Bible.
I have been finding information on relatives that lists
the place of birth as German-Poland. I don't understand
the meaning of this. The years of these dates are
1865-1881. Why is it two names instead of one?
ANSWER: History. Poland was "off the map" and
under foreign rule from 1795 until 1919. By 1921, Poland
had acquired all of its land back from Russia. In 1939,
Russia invaded eastern Poland while Germany invaded from
the west, and the Polish government went into exile. At
the end of WWII, Roosevelt & Churchill graciously
gave away part of Poland to Russia at Yalta -- because of
the "help" that Russia had offered to the
Allied forces. In reality, all Russia had wanted out of
WWII was that eastern strip of Poland. The only reason
the Russians fought the Germans is because the Germans
almost took the strip. (Ya. Try explaining to Poles that
Russia was an ally during WWII! LOL!)
And, at the Potsdam Conference after Germany surrendered
in '45, Poland was given a strip of what had been eastern
Germany. Long story. Pull out any basic
Now, what does this all mean for your genealogy while
you're finding birth dates from 1865-1881 noted as
"German-Poland"? Well, first thing it means is
that you are not dealing with a primary source. Second
thing it means is that someone who wrote it that way was
likely trying to convey that the event happened in an
area that would likely have been part of the Polish
territory before WWII. But, to tell you the truth, it's
anyone's guess what was meant by the phrase. You're
dealing with a non-primary record and a phrase made up by
you-know- not-whom to convey
Best advise: Pull out some basic stuff on the history of
Poland and make your own best guess.
Is there a proper way to ask someone whether his family
is Caucasian or Afro-American? I do a lot of
telephoning to hopeful family connections that I get from
phone books. A lot of my family names are popular to both
races. It would save me money and them time if I
could ask this question at the beginning without meaning
any disrespect. I would like to ask the question
the same way you might ask if your family has red hair or
ANSWER: Unless you know and have met your 2nd, 3rd, 4th
cousin (whatever), you really can't begin to guess if
he/she's white or black. Better to begin your call by
saying, "I'm doing genealogy research on the
descendants of [fill in the name] who lived in [fill in
the place] and who died in [fill in the year]."
The reason a lot of names are popular to people of a
variety of shades is sometimes because some of those
people are related.
For example, I work the CRIPE line. The immigrant
ancestor was white, a German who arrived in the 1700s.
While most of his descendants are white, one male
descendant before 1950 married a black woman. Another
line I work is the TODD line. As in Mary Todd, Mrs. Abe
Lincoln. The immigrant TODD was a white Irishman.
However, one TODD man sired a child with a black slave,
claimed the child, and gave the child his name. The TODDs
were outraged -- not because he'd fathered a child with a
black woman, but because he claimed the child.
My point is, if you are white, you could easily have very
close blood relatives who are black. And, if you are
black, the same is true. The line between
"white" and "black" is artificial,
most especially in the USA.
correct way to use the maiden name is to put it in
parentheses between the first name and the married name;
for example, Mary (Jones) Smith. Check out some
obits and marriage announcements from the 1950s and
earlier, and you'll see the maiden name listed this
way. Besides, the maiden name came before the
RESPONSE: Actually, you are wrong. Or at least not 100%
right. There are many ways to state a person's name. The
traditional and formal way that is found from days of
yore -- and even among the formal folks today -- is a bit
different from what you've described.
There's a little French word that has come to be accepted
in English. The word is "née." It
means "born." Thus, if Mary as a married woman
served as someone's matron of honor, her name would be
written as follows: Mary Smith, née Jones.
Also, you will find in some documents that Mary's name
would be written as follows: Mary Smith, born Jones.
I've seen the "born Jones" example on old wills
and tombstones. Particularly among Germans. I guess they
figured that they'd moved from German to English, but
that French would be one move too many.
Catherine Coulter's "The Wild Baron," the
hero's brother is married in an illegal union where the
brother deliberately hires a non-preacher to marry him to
a girl so that she would be under the impression she was
married. My genealogy question is this: If you had
that illegal license and a christening of the resultant
child, would that be enough to prove descent from the
people mentioned in the license for one of the linage
societies? If not, how much more would be needed?
ANSWER (1997): We have a man sitting in the White House
who has a similar genealogy problem: William Blythe, Jr.,
now known as William Jefferson Clinton. Mr. Clinton's
mother -- a gal whom even the far right media had no
desire to tarnish -- was a young nurse when she met a
smooth talker. He swept her off her feet and asked her to
marry him. She said yes, and went thru what she had every
reasonable reason to believe was a valid marriage. She
met his family; his family never breathed a word.
HOWEVER, the senior Mr. Blythe already was married,
and the family knew it. Since a man may not legally have
two wives in the USA, the "marriage" to the
unsuspecting nurse was invalid.
Eventually the senior Mr. Blythe did divorce the wife,
but since he did not again "re-marry" the nurse
or actually marry her for the first time, the marriage to
the nurse was never legal. In such a situation, the man
could be charged not only with bigamy, but also with
rape-by-deception. He used the bogus marriage for obvious
These things happen not just in books, but in real life.
Now, would a lineage society accept it? Ummmm, I would
guess it would depend on who was asking! Certainly if
Chelsea Clinton were asking, she'd pass the test. If
Betty Bumpkin were asking (or if the request were coming
from one of those many half-siblings that turn up for the
poor President), I don't know what the answer would be.
Despite how any may disagree with politics on one side or
the other, as genealogists I suspect we can all
appreciate the awkwardness that Mr. Clinton has been
forced to endure for reasons not of his making. This is
one area he's handled with simple honesty as the story
has unfolded for him. It's been a case of, "These
are the facts; they're beyond my control; I won't try to
is the meaning of "Member Post 629 GAR,"
found on a grave stone? This inscription is on
my gggrandfather's head stone. He was born 1844 and died
1921. Any info would help. .
ANSWER: It means the man served in the Union Army during
the Civil War and was honorably discharged. He then
joined an organization for Union Army veterans of the
Civil War called "Grand Army of the Republic."
To join, he had to have been honorably discharged from
the Union Army and voted into the GAR by the existing
It also means you can find from the National Archives
military papers on him, and [almost certainly] pension
papers. You may find pension papers for both him and his
widow if she survived him.
You also can likely find him on the various veterans
censuses that were taken around 1890. They are usually in
the state archives.
And, it means you could join the Sons of Union Veterans
of the Civil War.
Should I share my info with a 4th cousin who is becoming
interested in genealogy, or would the sharing would
"spoil his fun."
ANSWER: My advice is share the info. Let him spend
his time verifying your data or finding new info. You and
he share only one line; you won't have "given him
everything." And, by giving him the info, you may
learn more yourself. In the information game, two plus
two generally equals more than four.
a person has two spouses, are the grandchildren of the
first marriage, half-cousins of the grandchildren of the
ANSWER: Yes, you are correct. They would be "half
what is the relationship of a great-grandchild of the
first marriage to a grandchild of the second marriage?
ANSWER: They would be "half first-cousins, once
a woman was granted a divorce, did she automatically get
her maiden name back. I know that in 1861,
this was the case for one woman, but this may have been
requested by her.
ANSWER: Give her back her name? Who took it? The fact
that a woman legally marries -- now or in 1861 -- does
NOT mean she loses the name she used prior to marriage,
and it does not mean she must use in any way any part of
her legal husband's name. That's a fallacy believed
by . . . well, fill in the blank!
The last I researched this was in 1974. At the time,
there was only one state -- Hawaii as I recall -- that
REQUIRED a woman to use her husband's surname as her own
after a legal marriage. One other state required that it
be used on her driver's license. I would not, however, be
surprised if those laws have been overturned by now. My
point is that no other states had at any time ANY laws
about what name a woman would use after marriage. Also,
there is no law against a person having TWO names (or
more) so long as no name is used to defraud. Look at the
Whether a woman who married, used her husband's surname
as her own, and then divorced would choose to continue
using her "married name" or revert to her
"maiden name" would be a matter of choice. The
choice might depend on many things. The amount of bile
felt at the mention of her ex-husband's name might be one
of the biggest factors.
"Etiquette" is one thing; there's your version,
my version, and the version of the man behind the tree.
Law is another thing.
So, the woman may have gone back to using her
"maiden name," or she may have continued to use
her "married name."
looking for any information on a little one-room school
located in the SE corner of Saugatuck Township
(Michigan). I want to know when it was built, and all
ANSWER: The best place to find any info about that school
is in that county. Check with the historical and/or
genealogy society specific for that county. If there is
none for that county, hunt for the closest.
Check with the school system for that area. Find out
exactly what piece of land the school was on, and start
checking for land records.
is the correct tombstone inscription when: Married couple
Mr. & Mrs. A; the wife dies. Married couple Mr.
and Mrs. B; the husband dies. Surviving Mr. A
marries surviving Mrs. B. The plan is that
when the new couple dies, each will be buried with
his/her ORIGINAL spouse in different cemeteries.
However, they want their respective tombstones to
acknowledge their SECOND marriages to each other.
Is there a traditional way of inscribing this?
ANSWER: Well, how much $$$ do you want to spend on the
inscription? The traditional way would be for the
tombstone of the original "Mrs. B" who then
became "Mrs. A" to be buried under the name
"Mary B A." Generally, there would be no
mention of her second husband except in the fact that she
would have had his last name at death. The really sad
thing about this is that "Mary" was born
neither "B" nor "A." She was born
"Z," and that name will be lost until some
genealogist digs it from the old records.
The husband from couple A would be buried under his name:
the same name he always had. No mention of any second
This is "traditionally," but if you're paying
for the engraving, you can do whatever you have the $$$
© Alice Marie Beard
Alice's Interesting Dead Folks